Heeeyyyyyyyyooooooo. How’s your Thursday going? I love Thursdays because it’s almost Friday. And because there is a list of people I get to help in all different areas in regards to health and fitness. And Thursday is one of my check in days. I love hearing success stories, and it means a lot that people put their trust in me while I continue how to figure out how to help them. Does that make sense?!? I’ve also been up since 4 am, so I prob don’t make sense. Good thing I didn’t go to that concert tonight in Atlanta. Mostly because I found out Nathaniel Rateliff had to bail, so some other girl who won You’ve Got Talent (or America’s Got Talent…or something like that) is opening for Florence and the Machine. Sad.
Oh, well.. here I am..
So, my friend Stone wrote this paper for one of his classes at Clemson. He asked if he could write it on me and the whole Reddit fiasco that happened a few months back where people said some (or a lot of) ignorant/dumb/hateful comments about me, my appearance, and how I must be on steroids (judging solely based on the way I look).
Here was the picture. Peep Pablo Escobar on the left. The pic was taken and edited by my friend, and the talented, Josh Wilson.
If you missed that post, here it is:
And..the instagram post here.
I just wanted to share his paper because 1. HE MADE AN A (100, TO BE EXACT) and 2. because I’d love to hear your thoughts (if you have any) on the perception and objectification of womens’ bodies in sports. What have your experiences been like?
Here is the paper.
Comm 3270 – Critique 1
May 26, 2019
For my first critique, I chose the blog post “Don’t Believe Everything You Read About Yourself” by Alison Stall, a CrossFit athlete from the Anderson, SC area. The post discusses the plethora of negative, hateful, rude and harsh comments that Alison received on a Reddit post that she did not post. Stall unpacks the morning when she woke up to find that the post had gone viral. She discusses the response that she and others had regarding the comments, what she would tell the Reddit trolls in response to their comments, and where she finds her identity during all of the madness.
On March 17th 2019, female CrossFit athlete Alison Stall woke up to a nightmare. A good friend posted a photo of her on Reddit (with good intentions). The photo featured Stall completing a workout for the 2019 CrossFit Open. The CrossFit open is a worldwide competition that allows CrossFit athletes of any caliber to participate. The photographer, a friend of Stall’s, decided to insert Pablo Escobar into photos (for fun) from that night and post them on Reddit. It initially went viral because of the creative idea of the photographer, but that turned into something much different. Everyone who looked at the post was focused on one photo in particular (Stall 2019).
When Stall started scrolling through the comments, she noticed the majority stated that she must be on steroids. Stall writes, “The part that stung a little for me was all of the comments about my appearance – basically that my appearance would lead these people to believe that I was on steroids. They didn’t stop there though. They literally broke my body down, piece by piece…focusing mostly on my boobs, my arms, and my face.” (Stall 2019) Those commenting on the photo went as far as to say that there is no way that Stall could have a normal period because of the steroids they believes she is on. In her blog post, Alison is transparent in letting us know that since coming off birth control two years ago, she has had normal periods and that is something she does not take for granted considering how lean and active she is (Stall 2019).
Stall then goes on to discuss the response she got on Instagram from her friends and followers after she shared some of the rude comments on her Instagram story (Stall 2019). Those who read the comments reached out to her in support and shared some of their own stories in which they were victims of rude comments from other people (Stall 2019).
Stall continues to write what she would say to those who commented on the Reddit post. She admits that they got her attention, wasted about 30 minutes of her Sunday morning and distracted her from waffles, her husband and checking in on clients (Stall 2019). Stall writes “You made me GO OUT OF MY WAY to LOVE people yesterday… to be more unassuming, less judgmental, and to see people for how beautiful they are. You really did something to me.” (Stall 2019) She breaks down how these comments made her so thankful for all the work she has put in (in and out of the gym) over the past several years (Stall 2019). She admits that she is not among the top caliber of athletes in the world of CrossFit. She discusses how she has backed off from training as hard as she used to, in order to not damage her body in any way in hopes of becoming a mom one day and to rehab a shoulder injury (Stall 2019). Stall celebrates the injuries she has been able to overcome: “I have overcome an achilles surgery – one that fully ruptured and didn’t get put back together correctly, which led to a hip injury. I have overcome achilles surgery part 2, in which I had to start all over again and get it repaired again.” (Stall 2019)
Stall dives deeper into some of her insecurities that were touched on in the comments. She discusses the criticism she received about her face, a body part that she has not always loved, but has learned to love more and more (Stall 2019). She goes on to talk about how her frame has never been particularly small and that her body type has always been something that bothered her (Stall 2019). Whether it was having her weight of 114 pounds being announced in the middle of her fourth grade classroom or a problem with under eating in high school, Alison has struggled with the idea of loving her own body (Stall 2019). Stall states “Thankfully, I started CrossFit in 2013, and although I’m not perfect, I can say that I’ve not only accepted my body time, but embraced it for what it CAN DO and for how STRONG and HEALTHY it is…” (Stall 2019)
Stall’s last comments on the blog post discuss her identity. “While I still struggle with this, and I have to constantly be taking steps to fight against this, my identity isn’t in what I look like or how I look. I know that if I fall into that trap, I’m going to be verrrrry disappointed one day.” (Stall 2019) Stall goes on to say that she knows her identity is in God and that if her identity was not in God, moments like this would take a much harder toll on her (Stall 2019).
I am going to approach this critique by discussing the (sexual) harassment of female athletes, objectification of female athletes and the idea of hegemonic masculinity. I have chosen these approaches because they are they are woven in Stall’s story and the story of so many other women in the sport of CrossFit.
Stall’s situation is a perfect look into the harassment that many female CrossFit athletes face. With CrossFit being a relatively new sport, many people outside of the sport are not used to the body types, muscles, and figures of many of these female CrossFit athletes. Only men are supposed to be big, strong, muscular and have veins popping out, right? That is true- according to the idea hegemonic masculinity which is defined as “a practice that legitimizes men’s dominant position in society and justifies the subordination of the common male population and women, and other marginalized ways of being a man.”(Connell 2005) Many female CrossFit athletes are beginning to focus less on how society is telling them to look and starting to focus on becoming some of the fittest individuals on earth.
Darvin and Scaggs write “ Objectification theory advances that girls and women are often the victims of sexual objectification. More specifically, varying processes throughout Western society serve to scrutinize women’s bodies, thus leading many girls and women to focus on the appearance rather than the function of their bodies. As a result, females may face serious consequences in an attempt to adhere to the appearance standards set forth through objectification. For example, the objectification of female bodies has resulted in what has been coined the frailty myth (Dowling, 2000). Specifically, the focus on the sexualized presentation of female bodies leads to an outcome of physical oppression.” (Darvin and Scaggs 2017)
Society has objectified women’s bodies to the point of keeping them from becoming all they can or want to be in sports. Alison Stall was bold enough to share her story. She did not have to be as open and truthful as she was with everyone who got to read her blog post, but she did it to raise awareness of a problem that exist for women in sports and in the real world. Sexual harassment of female athletes, objectification of female athletes and the idea of hegemonic masculinity are a serious and lurking issue. Calling these things out when you see them, standing up against it, supporting female athletes like Alison Stall and taking sexist, objectifying language out of your vocabulary are just a few ways to help end these serious problems.
Stall, A. (2019, March 18). Don’t Believe Everything You Read About Yourself [Web log post]. Retrieved May 23, 2019, from https://alisonstall.com/2019/03/18/4840/
Connell, R. W. (2005). Masculinities (2nd ed.). Berkeley, California: University of California Press. ISBN 9780745634265.
Darvin, L., & Sagas, M. (2017). Objectification in Sport Media: Influences on a Future Women’s Sporting Event. Retrieved May 21, 2019.